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UPDATE: Peacemaker Rev. Canon Andrew White

Tanenbaum Peacemakers Rev. Canon Andrew White and Yehezkel Landau

Tanenbaum Peacemakers Rev. Canon Andrew White and Yehezkel Landau

Tanenbaum Peacemaker Yehezkel Landau met with Peacemaker Rev. Canon Andrew White yesterday morning in Jerusalem.

They had a deep and important conversation over coffee inside the Jaffa Gate to the Old City.  Andrew is in Israel to work on getting humanitarian relief to people in Gaza.

They shared elements of their respective peace efforts, and are trying to support each other going forward.

We are glad to hear that Andrew is doing well.

A Child is Slaughtered…A Peacemaker Mourns

We are deeply saddened to report that a 5 year old Christian boy, named Andrew after our Peacemaker Rev. Canon Andrew White, was murdered and cut in half by Islamic State terrorists (ISIS) during an invasion of Qaraqosh, a small Christian town in Iraq.

“I’m almost in tears because I’ve just had somebody in my room whose little child was cut in half,” Anglican Canon Andrew White of St. George’s Church told the Anglican Communion News Service. “I baptized his child in my church in Baghdad. This little boy, they named him after me — he was called Andrew.”

“When this story came across the wires, we looked at it, thought of our Peacemaker in Iraq, Canon Andrew White. It leaves me without words. All we could do was to try to call him. But we haven’t been able to reach him yet.”
– Joyce S. Dubensky, CEO of Tanenbaum

Known as the Vicar of Baghdad, Canon Andrew White has declared to news sources that he refuses to leave Baghdad. VICE News filmed a short documentary series about Andrew and his work which can be found in our blog post here.

 

South-South Exchange: Peacemaking in South Africa & Honduras

Transcending Cultural & Geographic Boundaries

Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the Americas, and in 2013, had the highest murder rate in the world. In 2011, as a response to extreme poverty and weak democratic institutions, an organization led by Hondurans began to grow. Known as the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP), they were determined to eradicate the perpetual fear that plagued their daily lives.

Tanenbaum’s Peacemaker in Action Chencho Alas recognized the power of this growing movement and its potential to build democracy within Honduras. As an established community leader and nonviolent activist, Chencho was selected by FNRP to present his own peacebuilding techniques and approaches to their organization.

Chencho knew that the newly formed FNRP would benefit from a unique opportunity: a Network Intervention. He sought assistance from fellow Tanenbaum Peacemaker in Action Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge who had intimate familiarity with nonviolent resistance, reconciliation and peacebuilding. Chencho knew that Nozizwe’s personal experience and struggle as a Quaker leader during South African apartheid would ignite hope for Hondurans. Together, they worked to develop a plan for a mutual partnership.

In 2011 and 2013, Chencho and Nozizwe conducted trainings and facilitated a South-South exchange of knowledge and capacity building for peaceful reconciliation. In 2011, they led training sessions with over 50 Honduran leaders that focused on methods of peacemaking and nonviolent resistance. In 2013, Chencho and Juan Barahona, the leader of the FNRP coalition, traveled to visit Nozizwe and other South African leaders. Chencho and Juan participated in meetings throughout South Africa to learn about the South African process and model of reconciliation. Additionally, workshops included strategy sessions for participatory planning and network building.  Chencho absorbed this knowledge with the intention of adapting and replicating their peacebuilding models in Honduras. He understood the potential for integrating non-violent resistance along with the South African reconciliation process.

Nozizwe’s experience with post-conflict peacebuilding in South Africa proved powerful and inspiring for grassroots activists during the intervention in Honduras. Her struggle to overcome prejudice and her imprisonment in South Africa was a powerful example for Hondurans, helping to ignite their hope and dedication towards their own peacebuilding initiatives.

During the intervention in Honduras, Chencho presented his own approach to peacemaking that focuses on positive assessment of assets and abilities, rather than problems and needs. Nozizwe learned from this method and looks forward to incorporating this approach in South Africa.

Common challenges and situations faced by both Hondurans and South Africans helped Chencho and Nozizwe to quickly understand how South-South partnerships promote the exchange of best practices in ways that combat entrenched challenges including poverty and violence.

Following the successful interventions, the FNRP used tools enhanced by both Chencho and Nozizwe to form the LIBRE political party in Honduras. During the November 2013 elections, the LIBRE party held early leads in the polls and displayed great progress in becoming a political party that unifies Honduran society.

Network Interventions highlight the importance of the collaborative work in ways that propel substantive peacebuilding and information sharing within the Network. The South-South exchange initiated by Chencho and Nozizwe illuminates the importance of the positive relationships built through the Network and its power to transcend cultural and physical geographic boundaries.

Click here to download the complete Honduras and South Africa Interventions report.

We Are All Human Beings

Despite the rockets and the airstrikes wreaking havoc in Israel and Gaza, Peacemaker in Action Yehezkel Landau’s organization Open House held its annual Summer Peace Camp. Seventy Arab and Jewish children gathered at the peace education center in Ramle, Israel did what all children should do during the summer – they had fun together.

While the latest war in Gaza further complicates hope for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, a twelve-year-old camper relays her belief that there can one day be peace – by reminding us of what we too often forget in times of conflict:

“We are all human beings.”

To read more about this lesson in perseverance, click here for Open House’s July 2014 newsletter, Summer Peace Camp in the Midst of War.

Summer Peace Camp in the mixed Jewish-Arab village of Neve Shalom/Wahat as-Salaam.

Summer Peace Camp in the mixed Jewish-Arab village of Neve Shalom/Wahat as-Salaam.

“The Vicar of Baghdad”: Peacebuilding in Iraq’s Red Zone

On Thursday, July 3rd, Peacemaker Rev. Canon Andrew White spoke with fellow Peacemakers in Action during a monthly call. When asked about his safety, White’s voice reverberated through the technological static: “Peacemaking is not about making peace in comfortable, safe places.”

That is how Rev. Canon Andrew White lives his life: beyond comfort zones and within the lawless and chaotic Red Zone in Central Baghdad, Iraq.

Lovingly dubbed the “Vicar of Baghdad,” Andrew is a steadfast leader in Baghdad not only for his church, Saint George’s Episcopal Anglican Church, but also as head of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, a relief and reconciliation program that supports the masses (Christians and Muslims alike) and coordinates reconciliatory efforts between Sunni and Shia leaders.

Andrew’s daily efforts, logistical challenges and reality are documented in “The Vicar of Baghdad”, a new three-part Vice Media special. Vice Media, known for being outspoken and bold in their news coverage, intimately portrays Andrew’s work on the ground. The candid look into Andrew’s daily life begins in a car; the camera shakes while lights flash red down a dimly lit street. From the passenger seat, Andrew narrates the situation, “It’s dangerous just sitting here.” These words color his actions, whether he is aware of it or not. He persists with his mission, guided by his peacebuilding practice and faith. Despite multiple kidnappings and death threats he does not sit still. Andrew is constantly on the move, visiting his parishioners and standing in solidarity with those in Iraq.

The Vicar of Baghdad has been filmed in 12-17 minute long installments. Each video is a window into the poverty, marginalization and hardships experienced in Iraq. With a backdrop of dry wit and humor, Andrew’s innate exuberance and the joy of his people are not fully dampened by their situations. The harsh environment does not mar his faithfulness, as he calmly proclaims, “My faith is everything.”

In recent days, the militant group the Islamic State, or IS, formerly called ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), continues to encroach upon Baghdad. According to Andrew, the country’s infrastructure is failing and people are dying daily. Iraq’s problems deepen with their presence and ongoing sectarian violence. Currently, Andrew and his people are surrounded by constant gunfights and dwindling outside communication. Unwavering, he continues to fight for peace and solidarity in Iraq.

Vice Media – The Vicar of Baghdad      

Part 1:

 

Part 2:

Part 3:

Building peace in Sri Lanka

As I made my way to my parents’ home this past weekend for the holiday, I could not help but think back to last week and meeting Dr. Jayantha Seneviratne (Jay). Jay is the husband of Tanenbaum’s Peacemaker in Action in Sri Lanka, Dishani Jayaweera, and her partner in founding and leading the Centre for Peace-Building & Reconciliation (CPBR). Jay was in New York to visit with his son and I could not help but be reminded of his pilgrimage as I making mine.

Jay took time to stop by our office and update us on the situation in Sri Lanka and the efforts of the CPBR. His news was not the best, but it was hopeful. As forces within the current government are trying to consolidate their powerbase, some of the less scrupulous among them have had no problem fanning the flames of the sectarianism that drove the 30 year civil war that ended in 2009.  At the same time, the forces working for a sustainable peace are also gathering strength and developing networks amongst themselves that make them a more united front.

In this tense setting, efforts to create relationships between the Sinhala and Tamil communities are now critical for a peaceful future, and creative methods to foster communication, especially among the young generations, are needed. Jay shard one such project with us and I though some members of the wider Tanenbaum community might find it interesting. The project used photography to show commonalities between the communities and start conversations across entrenched boundaries. The link to a description of the work is here, and those of you who want to see some of the great photography that was produced can see it here.

Mihai MorarChief of Staff

Part II: Peacemakers preparing for a stable Syria

Photo by Flickr user FreedomHouse

On Saturday March 1st, Peacemaker Friar Ivo Markovic returned to Bosnia from a week of trainings in Jordan. Like fellow Peacemaker Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, Ivo spent the week working with Hind Kabawat, Tanenbaum’s Peacemaker in Action from Syria, to train a new generation of Syrian peace activists dedicated to rebuilding civil society in a post-war Syria.

During the trainings, Friar Ivo encouraged the Syrian activists to help end the war by accessing their inner strength and enabling others who are longing for peace to do the same. For the activists, Ivo’s message was more than just words. Ivo’s trainings came from his own experience leading reconciliation efforts in the midst of violent sectarian conflict that followed the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1992. Like the Syrian activists, Ivo faced numerous threats to his life during the conflict, but stayed the course for peace. Though Bosnia still has its share of conflict, the bloodshed has ended and residents are working for a better future together.

For the Syrian activists, Ivo was a real-life example that demonstrated that peace is possible, even in the direst of circumstances.

(Read about part 1 here)

Peacemakers preparing for a stable Syria

Image by Flickr user Syria-Frames-Of-Freedom

Last month in Amman, Jordan, Peacemakers Hind Kabawat of Syria and Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge of South Africa delivered a series of trainings to a new generation of Syrian activists dedicated to rebuilding civil society in a post-war Syria. Though Syria is anything but peaceful now, the activists are preparing themselves by learning from the firsthand experiences of individuals like Nozizwe, who participated in South Africa’s transition from an intractable Apartheid regime to plural democracy. This week, another Tanenbaum Peacemaker, Ivo Markovic of Bosnia, is joining Hind to share his on-the-ground experience rebuilding shattered societies in the Balkans and building trust among religious and ethnic groups. The Syrian activists in attendance will learn directly from living examples of individuals and communities that sowed the seeds of peace in the midst of violence.

The trainings, running from January to May, focus on developing activists’ skills and knowledge in conflict resolution, transitional justice, reconciliation, and civil society building – issues that will be central to rebuilding a post-war Syria. Nozizwe and Ivo’s trainings will add to this by providing an examination of countries that emerged peacefully from years of armed conflict, with invaluable lessons to be learned for Syria.

Like all wars, the violence in Syria will end one day and the difficult work of rebuilding a shattered country will begin. This is precisely the moment for which Hind, along with her fellow Peacemakers, is helping to prepare Syrian activists.